A Booklover's Guide to New York (2024)

Jane

2,682 reviews55 followers

October 6, 2019

So there I was, browsing happily through Cleo Le-Tan's wonderful directory of all things bookish in New York when I come across the following paragraph: "Some of the exhibitions the New-York Historical Society have featured illustrations and objects from literary masterpieces including J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter, Chitty Chitty Bang, Bang! and my all-time favorites, the Eloise and Madeline exhibitions." Thank you, Cleo, for the shout out - I was the lucky person who got to curate the Eloise and Madeline shows, and they were both a joy - as is your book!

Parker

233 reviews14 followers

November 13, 2023

A Booklover's Guide to New York (3)
The guiding force for one of the best weekends of my life. A love letter to the literary forces of NYC. The art is beautiful, and you can tell the author knows damn well what she’s talking about. A bit pretentious at times, sure, but that’s sort of what I was looking for. I’ve always wanted to do a bookstore crawl, and thanks to this book, I got a sliver of what the city has to offer. In about two days I went to (and gained charming memories of):

1. Drama Book Shop
- The perfect store for any theater lover. Got a script copy of The Play That Goes Wrong for sh*ts and giggles.
2. Book Off
- Japanese chain with lots of used and new books!
3. McNally Jackson Books
- Went to the Rockefeller branch. Absolutely beautiful layout in the store. Clutched a signed copy of Shortcomings.
4. The Strand
- Spent over two hours wandering around here. It’s absolutely massive and the best place to get lost in. Finally bought Time Is a Mother after months of impulse control (for the sake of my wallet).
5. Alabaster Books
- I loveeeee the jazz music that plays while you browse. Stumbled on Black Apples, a poetry collection I’ve never heard of but can’t wait to dig into.
6. Forbidden Planet (not in book but spiritually fits)
- Super fun sci-fi/fantasy focused bookstore. Gave in and got a copy of Children of Dune, which I’ll suffer through later this year.
7. Mercer Street Books and Records
- Had a rambling conversation with the head bookseller who really wanted me to buy his poetry. He kept ranting about the “tax man.” I eventually went with Dwelling Song, another unknown collection that called to me.
8. Dashwood Books
- Underground bookstore specializing in Japanese photo and art books. Got a small Polaroid collection for my sister, recommended by the bookseller (who is also the sweetest woman in the world).
9. Albertine
- By far the most aesthetic of all the bookstores. Incredibly French. The starry night sky that decorated the second floor ceiling is positively magical. Wish I spoke the language so I could justify buying a book, but here we are.
10. The Corner Bookstore
- Small but mighty. Saw a signed copy of Same Bed Different Dreams that immediately caught my eye. Made one of the booksellers smile when I said it’s the kind of story I know I’ll love.
11. Shakespeare & Co.
- Not quite the Paris version, but still a great store. Love the Shakespeare drinks offered on the cafe menu.

All these stores, and I barely scratched the surface of what this book has to offer. I’m excited to return to this book and discover more in future trips.

Another fun anecdote is that Sharon Washington, one of the interviewees in this book, is a good friend of the people I stayed with during my trip. Small world, huh?

Sofia

22 reviews25 followers

October 19, 2019

NYC and Books: 2 of my great loves in life. The book is a beautifully illustrated gem. I’m going to make it my mission to visit every single one of these spots! May report back.

* My copy has a lovely note from the author, who I enjoyed listening to at The Mysterious Bookshop (in Tribeca).

    books-about-nyc

Laura Hoffman Brauman

2,736 reviews43 followers

November 25, 2019

I have spent the last month dipping in and out of this wonderful guide to bookish places in NYC. It was the best of armchair traveling and the book is going with me the next time I am in the city for work.

Shannon

193 reviews

January 7, 2021

Fours stars only because one of the bookstores in here is Barnes and Nobles

Rosalind

129 reviews18 followers

November 10, 2022

A little pretentious but still a great guide to the literary nooks and crannies of New York City. I’m excited to go to all the bookstores, bars, and libraries listed here (but especially the bars). Also, some fascinating information on the legality of sidewalk bookselling vendors - they have a constitutional right to sell as a part of our American right to freedom of expression. Not something I expected to stumble on in this book.

Starasia

420 reviews

October 10, 2019

This is made for book lovers and lovers of NYC. The book is gorgeous, lovely to hold with charming drawings. There are the obvious spots, such as the strand and the public library, but mostly there are esoteric little spots that I am now dying to visit, such as Albertine and Argosy. It’s divided by boroughs and neighborhoods and would make a perfect companion for a book crawl. I am inspired.

April 8, 2020

You can tell the book was written and made by a book lover. Physically, the book is gorgeous. The illustration by the author's father is great. The book has weight and feel, due to the high quality of the materials. The cover is fabric, with great tectile. The leaves are heavy weight paper. The book is divided into chapter corresponding to neighborhoods, and the chapters use a different color. There are ruled pages at the end for note taking. Printed in Italy. published by a firm that is included in the book. A book worthy of collecting.
While mainly a guide to bookshops and libraries in NYC, there is also mention of places with a literary connection.
The author clearly loves this journey, and you are inspired to visit and seem some of the places mentioned.

Mike

166 reviews16 followers

February 20, 2020

My final trip to New York City came some 10 years ago when my brother lived there.

Or so I thought.

Last year, well after my brother had moved from NYC and my free place to stay had vanished, he was back offering another free place to stay for a few days. Feeling New Yorked out, I wasn’t too sure -- until I realized the Indians were in town over a weekend and playing both the Yankees and Mets.

So my final trip to New York City actually came last August, with trips to Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, Times Square the Brooklyn Public Library, Tom’s Diner, Columbia University, and hour-plus subway trips and a $60 Uber ride to the airport.

Or so I thought.

Upon discovering A Booklover’s Guide to New York, I realize my final trip to New York City has yet to come. For within the pages of this beautiful, wonderful, fun-filled books is a guide to about every bookstore, literary hideout, and booklover’s place of note anyone could imagine. Every place that Cleo Le-Tan writes about gets at least a page, with most of them illustrated by her father Pieree Le-Tan, a famous cartoonist for The New Yorker.

The Strand bookstore -- which I’ve visited -- of course gets six pages, including an interview with its owner. So does the NY Public Library, with an interview of the chief librarian. Then there are places I’ve never heard of that get extended treatment, like Pete’s Tavern, known as the place O. Henry made famous. Open to a random page and you might find a dedication to the Gramercy Typewriter Company or the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. Even a description of a corner street vendor.

Each entry reads like a Goodreads review. Le-Tan says she visited 80-90% of the places. She’s especially exuberant about bookstores and libraries and other literary haunts as places, somewhere to go and be among books and book lovers and have conversations or just sit and enjoy.

You can take your Follet guidebooks, your Rick Steves, your Frommers or Lonely Planets. This is the best guidebook about New York City ever printed. Another final trip to the Big Apple is warranted, with this book on my hip. Perhaps a stay in the Library Hotel, exquisitely outlined here. A trip to the Minetta Tavern, where Hemingway and ee cummings used to hang out. Definitely a visit to the Japan-inspired bookbook on West 45th.

There’s enough in this book to make another trip of hourlong subway rides, $60 Uber trips, and traipsing through Newark Airport worth it all.

Nan

603 reviews32 followers

February 5, 2020

A treasure map to all things literary in New York City: bookshops, libraries, statuary, residences, watering holes and hangouts of celebrated writers, and so on. It also includes short interviews with people who make their lives in the world of books. Organized by neighborhood, this volume is sure to provide many new destinations even for those who thought they knew it all. A physically beautiful book to savor and inspire. Can't wait to explore some of these suggestions on my next visit.

    books-and-reading

Angela Byers

120 reviews5 followers

September 21, 2022

If you live in New York City or spend extended time there, this is must-read for book lovers! Filled with all manner of literary spots and book shops, the author provides a bibliophile’s dream tour guide! I now have a long list of places I want to visit during my one month NYC stay.❤️ 📚 ❤️

    non-fiction travel

Justine Cucchi-Dietlin

337 reviews23 followers

March 1, 2023

I picked this book up at The Strand during my bachelorette trip to New York City, and I'm really glad I did! I'm not a drinker, so my bridesmaids had set up the trip to be a literary tour around Manhattan, with a very important pitstop at Spider-Man's workplace, Joe's Pizza, in the Tobey McGuire films. My ladies know me so well.

This is a really cute book that focuses primarily on Manhattan bookstores and bookish places, with a few interviews sprinkled in from literary people. As someone who's been to some of the places mentioned in this book, I thought she did a great job capturing the literary scene in NYC and what makes it so fun. It's definitely a vibe everyone should experience once.

    library-bookstore-books

Maydayeve

41 reviews

December 5, 2020

Reading this at the height of Corona virus in New York makes me nostalgic about the city that i visited twice. I was very excited when i opened the book and the first bookstore it featured was the one i visited. What a delightful virtual "bookshop crawl" this book gave me. The author shared her love of books, bookshops, library and museums. I am amazed that New York seems to have bookstores in every corner! Each of the stores have its own characteristics and has something different to offer. I hope NY will heal soon and i will be able to meet Zachary plying his books in the street of NY.

    bookshop-library-new-york-le-tan

Marion

714 reviews

December 19, 2019

A book about NYC’s bookshops, libraries, and literary spots?! My dream! learned about several cool spots from this book. I also found many of the interview subjects to be very interesting. I would have loved if there had been a map included in here for all the places listed.

Of course, the author of a book like this needs to make decisions about what to include and what not to. And, of course, that means that readers will likely find some of their expectations unmet. I was disappointed that this book didn’t mention any LGBT bookshops in NYC. I also would have been interested to read more about iconic spots that are now closed. The interviews often read like they were pre-written questions that the author sent to her subject, with written responses - which is still nice but the flow of a conversation is missing. Lastly, the author’s taste varies from mine. For instance, I have no interest in any of the clubs or private libraries which she describes as looking “majestic.” They are bastions of the elite and not my preference at all.

    nyc

Bruce Lesley

13 reviews1 follower

April 12, 2020

This was a fascinating read, it brings the literary history of the city alive with wonderful references from which to learn more, I can't wait to visit NYC as soon as it opens back up, I just hope that all of these bookstores survive this closed economy, I only would have liked maps and locations as I'm a walker and not a true New Yorker just visiting a few times a year, practically using this source is the only way I'll see more than just the Strand, Mysterious Bookstore, and any other place I just happen to pass by mistake, I was happy to buy my copy from the Mysterious Bookstore for the cover price but would contribute more if a fundraiser to support local bookstores is started around this or other like publications, Stay Healthy! Bruce.

Cathy

211 reviews1 follower

May 22, 2020

This is such a beautiful book. From the beautiful linen cover to the gorgeous illustrations inside.
I wanted to savor every page so dipped in and out of it between other books that I was reading.
The next time I visit New York I will be using this as a literary travel guide of the city.
There are so many bookshops and libraries that I have yet to visit that I can't wait to see.
The shops and libraries that I have been to were accurately and beautifully written about in this book including some interviews with key players in the NYC literary world.
I cannot recommend this book enough.
Thank you for writing Cleo.

Amberwench

302 reviews5 followers

October 6, 2020

A delightfully personal wander through book stores, libraries, and a few small other literary related places. A must for the book lover who's planning a trip to NYC and wants a couple of safe haven option when the bustle overwhelms.
New York Historical Society- "It's eleven founders declared that "without the aid of original record and authentic documents, history will be nothing more than a well-combined series of ingenious conjectures and amusing fables.""

Nick

Author21 books117 followers

March 3, 2023

An exquisite, idiosyncratic, and utterly charming guide to the booklover's New York City. I picked it up at the J.P. Morgan library on the way out of NYC, and now I can't wait to visit again so that I can start sleuthing out some of the gems mentioned in these pages. Cleo Le-Tan is a sensitive, thoughtful, and observant writer, and she loves NYC, and thus makes the perfect guide. This book is a treasure.

Betsy

Author5 books12 followers

February 2, 2020

I wish I found this book before a trip to NYC...instead I found it in the gift shop of the Morgan library! It was a delightful guide to many different books and libraries around NYC. After reading it in my hotel room I did scope out a few other places i may not have considered without reading this book....and is a delightful souvenir that will help me plot and plan my next trip!

Erin Bilé

509 reviews1 follower

January 9, 2021

An exquisite and artfully designed guide to literary attractions in New York City. I enjoyed learning of new spots I must visit and was nostalgic for those I already have. It would be hard for me not to enjoy something that combines two of my most favorite things- NYC and books!

I wish every city I visited had one to breeze through before traveling there!

Melissa

280 reviews

July 9, 2022

There is no better book than all the literary finds one can locate in NY. Beautiful locations are mentioned with fabulous drawings. I'm so happy I stumbled upon this book :) One of the best parts is the interviews that go along with the locations. And a shout out to all the excellent libraries in NY that get mentioned too!

Jackie

286 reviews4 followers

April 15, 2020

Closer to 3 3/4 stars
For a lover of reading & New York City, this was enjoyable. Biggest objection was the smallish print on colored paper. Will definitely make a list of locations for my next trip to NYC.

Christina Marcon

294 reviews2 followers

November 8, 2020

I need to get back to New York! Of course, I'm a Strand Lover and have been to many of the shops and libraries, but there is so much more. And there were some interesting articles on book shop owners and novelists...very fun and quick read!

Amanda

808 reviews

June 28, 2021

This book put me to shame as a New York city book store lover. There were so many that I didn't know about! I was a little put off by all the personal anecdotes from the author since I didn't know who she was... but it's otherwise charming.

Christina

603 reviews24 followers

December 13, 2019

I bought this at one of the bookshops featured in the book! Have read it twice. Cannot wait to visit all the places. A book lover’s dream, especially if you live in NY or plan to visit!

Marc

551 reviews2 followers

March 9, 2020

Excellent resource for book lovers and a city filled with book stores I had not heard of but would love to visit.

    2020 stories-essays-novellas

Sara

679 reviews2 followers

July 1, 2020

A great assortment of stores, museums, and libraries all throughout the city!

Sandra

288 reviews

February 1, 2021

A lovely book. I want to take it in hand and visit NYC. NOW!!

Cherie

81 reviews2 followers

April 19, 2021

Inspired me to go to some bookstores in areas I don't usually get to.

    new-york-books

A

433 reviews12 followers

June 24, 2021

A charming little collection of book oriented places in NYC. Gave me plenty of inspiration.

A Booklover's Guide to New York (2024)

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